Twitter for me? Twitter for my classroom? Is it really possible? I mean Twitter is for finding out what Justin Bieber eats for breakfast or which NHL hockey players are injured for the next game. Or so I thought… Four years ago, I attended the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference. The theme was “Exploring Excellence”. One of the workshops I attended changed my whole outlook on social media in the classroom. The workshop turned out to be extremely overwhelming—hashtags, retweet, twitter handles, follow, #ff, and much more. But there was one statement that caught my attention. “You make it what you want to make it. Follow your interests and your passion.” My passion is teaching. I am a math teacher. I teach secondary 4 students. My goal as a teacher is to provide opportunities for my students to be active in their learning. Math is not a spectator course and I feel students have to express their thoughts about their trials, their errors, and their celebrations. I am continuously seeking ways to help teenagers become comfortable, confident and I want to instill a love for learning. That summer, after the conference, I lurked. I became comfortable with Twitter. I learned the language. I discovered a tremendous amount of resources I am now using in my classroom and I made connections with the most inspiring educators on this planet. And so, –three years later—yes, I tweet with my students.
Why I think Twitter is a powerful teaching tool Often, teenagers feel their voice is not important. They feel they are not contributing anything worthwhile. To them, their thoughts are unimportant for their teachers and their peers. A hashtag I created, #mystrategy, was to prompt the students to share what makes them successful when they are solving a math problem. One of my students tweeted
And I responded.
If the students feel their input is valued, they will feel they have a voice.
How I set up our class Twitter account First, we have a class discussion. What is Twitter? Every year, I discover not many students have Twitter accounts, nor do they know how to use Twitter. And they do not really know how we will use it. So, I start with a definition. Then, we discuss, “Why will we use Twitter?” We discuss how valuable this tool can be for their math learning. We exchange ideas on the importance of collaboration. We talk about leaving a digital footprint and the importance of being careful about what we share on the internet. After our discussion, I provide the following slides:
Examples of tweets/hashtags
For the first three months, students do not know what to tweet. It is important to create prompts. Here are some examples along with some student tweets: The students tweet about math “Make a statement about the graph”
The students share happy moments
“What was your happiest learning moment this week?”
The students share what works for them when using a math concept
“What steps must I be careful with when using the quadratic formula?”
And the students become very creative:
The students encourage each other before an evaluation
“How will you prepare for the evaluation” or “What will you put on your memory aid”
The students have conversations:
The students share their questions, thoughts, ideas, and words of encouragement.
And there are many other hashtags we use.
#INTU (I need to understand)
And I tweet.
Here is a voicthread. You will find out what my students think of twitter.
As a teacher I have gained so much on Twitter. My teaching practices have changed because of the ideas that are shared by my Professional Learning Network. (PLN) Here are a few awesome educators that have had an impact on my outlook on what it means to be engaged, connected and collaborative in a classroom; @cybraryman1, @c_durley,@ShellTerrell, @coolcatteacher. And the most inspirational person for me is @angelamaiers. On the last day of school, I tweeted the following. It was inspired by Angela Maiers’ popular hashtag, #youmatter